[COLUMN] Freedom and COVID

THERE are 321 countries and territories affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The total global number of cases as of 7:20 AM (CST), Tuesday, August 31,2021, was 218,180,175, and a death toll of 4,528,029.

The COVID-19 cases in the United States, predominantly caused by the Delta variant, have surged the past few weeks. The top five states with the greatest number of cases and deaths include California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois. The August 29, 2021 record shows 280 deaths that day alone, with a 7-day average of 1,296. On Monday, August 30, there were 3,105 new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. The total cases as of the following day was 39,953,651 and the death toll was 656,482, an increase of over 1 million cases and 9,000 deaths from a week ago. For the Philippines, there are 1,989,857 cases and 33,448 deaths.

Does leadership count in a pandemic?

It is hard to believe that, as educated as we are today and with mind-boggling state-of-the-art discoveries and progress in medical science, there are still individuals, some of them even in healthcare, who refuse vaccination, masking and social distancing. More shameful are leaders like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who passed an executive order banning schools from implementing mask mandates, an obvious brainless and irresponsible act that harmed children and others. Clearly, he wanted to be politically correct when he proclaimed, “Allow the mothers to decide!” He must have thought all mothers in Florida were epidemiologists. Fox News just posted this: A Florida Judge scrapped Governor DeSantis’ executive order, stating it was “without legal authority.” It was, indeed, a stupid edict which has certainly contributed to the current massive surge of COVID-19 in Florida. And there are members of both Houses of our national government who still refuse vaccination. This is one reason why people are confused. Leadership is vital, especially during national or global catastrophic events.

Why should we wear a mask in public?

Even the vaccinated should wear a mask and do social distancing in public because of the possibility of a breakthrough infection, especially with the more virulent Delta variant. The problem is nobody knows who are vaccinated or not in public. So, the safer behavior is to distance yourself at least 6 feet from people. Unvaccinated individuals are the greatest carriers of the virus, whose body is the reservoir where rapid mutation takes place to produce deadlier strains.

Are children COVID cases increasing?

Yes, new state-level data analyzed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association reports “children accounted for roughly 15 percent of all newly reported COVID-19 cases across the nation for the week ending August 5, 2021. Nearly 94,000 child cases were recorded during that period, a 31 percent increase over the roughly 72,000 cases reported a week earlier, and 39,000 a week before that.” Two children died of COVID-19 in Tennessee and five in Mississippi. Obviously, adults refusing the vaccines caused this transmission to the kids.

What is monoclonal antibody RX?

Monoclonal antibody (mAb) intravenous infusion, according to Regeneron, its maker, is “designed to target the virus from entering your body’s cells. If the virus can’t enter cells, it can’t make copies of itself and continue spreading within the body. If a person is already sick, monoclonal antibodies prevent them from having severe symptoms that require hospitalization. If someone has been exposed, monoclonal antibodies can fend off the virus to prevent them from becoming sick in the first place.”

Are recent deaths anti-vaxxers?

Yes. The more than 90 percent who got infected and died recently were against the vaccines. Florida radio host Marc Bernier, who branded himself as “Mr. Anti-Vax,” opposing the vaccines in his broadcasts and misleading millions, died of COVID-19 on Saturday, August 28. He was the third radio personality against the vaccines who died of COVID-19, according to The Hill/Politico. Scott Apley, a Texas GOP leader, against masking and the vaccines, died of COVID-19 early this month. These were “leaders” who could have saved millions instead of setting a deadly example for their fellowmen, a great disservice to society.

Is misinformation against the law?

Unfortunately, under a democracy, with the First Amendment rights to free speech, anyone is allowed to say whatever they want, right or wrong, true or false. People with their own pulpit (radio, TV or social media) have been the greatest sources of misinformation about COVID-19, effectiveness of masks, and safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. In the medical profession, freedom of speech is limited only to the truth and facts. Physicians who publicly spread misinformation about the COVID 19 pandemic could be sanctioned by the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), including potentially losing board certification. The rampant abuse of our First Amendment rights in the United States is tremendously hurting our society.

Can the pregnant get the vaccine?

Yes, and every pregnant woman should get the vaccines, which have been proven to be safe and effective for the mother and the fetus inside them. The University of Alabama at Birmingham reported that 39 pregnant women with COVID, mostly unvaccinated, had been admitted to their hospital, 10 to their ICU and 7 on ventilators. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for COVID-19. And so with the baby.

Why is there no federal mandate on vaccination?

While an endemic in a state may be handled by the state government, a pandemic, which involves ALL states, must be managed by the federal government. The reason is obvious: people travel from one state to the other. Had the CDC guidelines and vaccinations for all eligible (people with no medical contraindication) been mandated on a nationwide scale early, this COVID-19 pandemic would have been contained sooner. If we are to follow medical science on how to deal with infectious diseases properly (especially one that kills millions), everyone eligible should be vaccinated, and those who refuse vaccination for whatever reason should not be allowed to mingle with those who are vaccinated, seniors with health issues, and immunocompromised people. Although the issue is a very complex one, the closer we adhere to epidemiologic principles, the lesser number of people will get infected and die, and the more lives we can save.

Are we now paying severely the price for the abuse of freedom and democracy, allowing people to do what they want, even actions deathly detrimental to others, in the name of civil rights?

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and FUN8888.com; Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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